Smoking is currently discouraged around playgrounds in Prince George, but the Canadian Cancer Society would like to see that prohibition legislated and enforced.
Just in time for national non-smoking week, the cancer society is calling on the provincial government to enact legislation to ban smoking in public parks, playgrounds, beaches and on patios.
"We know that exposure to secondhand smoke does kill people and exposure in close proximity is just as dangerous outdoors as indoors," Canadian Cancer Society said health promotion co-ordinator Kerensa Medhurst. "We also want to protect children and youth from secondhand smoke, they're more likely to suffer from lung and breathing problems."
Signs around local playgrounds and sports facilities like soccer pitches already ask smokers to voluntarily refrain from smoking there, but Medhurst said more is needed to to protect the health of non-smokers. She pointed to communities like Kelowna, which already have outdoor smoking bans, as examples such a regulation can work.
"We know that public education as well legislation is the best way to protect the health of British Columbians," she said.
In addition to promoting health, Medhurst said the proposed regulations aim to model good behaviour and encourage smokers to quit. Since many smokers are already attempting to kick the habit, she doesn't expect the plan will face significant resistance.
The proposal to ban smoking on restaurant patios could face more severe opposition, but Medhurst said her group has studies that show there's no negative impact on business when such rules are enacted.
At this point Medhurst said her organization isn't calling for a smoking ban on public sidewalks, but she said some municipalities have already taken that step.
"We've been working at the municipal level for a long time, and some communities have banned [smoking] on city sidewalks and bus stops," she said. "But with the province-wide legislation we're looking for the parks and the playgrounds."